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Title:  Nigeria Human Rights Practices, 1995   
Author:  U.S. Department of State    
Date:  March 1996    
 
 
 
 
                           NIGERIA 
 
 
General Sani Abacha, who seized power in a palace coup in November 1993, 
remained Nigeria's Head of State throughout 1995.  Under Abacha, the 
main decisionmaking organ was the exclusively military Provisional 
Ruling Council (PRC), which ruled by decree.  The PRC oversees the 32-
member Federal Executive Council composed of military officers and 
civilians, including several prominent politicians.  Pending a new 
constitution, some provisions of the 1979 and 1989 constitutions were 
observed, although the decree suspending the 1979 constitution was not 
repealed, and the 1989 constitution was never implemented.  In his 
October 1 Independence Day speech Abacha announced a transition 
timetable which purports to return Nigeria to democratically elected 
civilian government by October 1, 1998.  However, by year's end, little 
progress had been made in the transition. 
 
The Government continued to enforce its arbitrary authority through the 
Federal Security System (the military, the state security service, and 
the national police), and through decrees blocking action by the 
opposition in the courts.  All branches of the security forces committed 
numerous serious human rights abuses. 
 
At the end of the year, the economy continued its downward slide.  While 
the country's elites continued to prosper, unemployment, 
underemployment, and inflation increased markedly.  Nigeria depends on 
oil exports for over 90 percent of its foreign exchange earnings and 
over 75 percent of its budget revenues.  In order to cope with reduced 
oil revenues, the Government implemented a national Structural 
Adjustment Program (SAP) from 1986 to 1991.  While the SAP was a success 
in some respects, economic conditions for the average citizen remained 
very difficult, and successive military governments increasingly 
abandoned reform by printing money the fueled inflation.  Endemic 
corruption further hindered the functioning of the economy. 
 
The human rights record worsened in 1995.  Throughout the year, the 
Government cracked down hard on the opposition.  The most prominent 
outspoken critics of the regime remained in detention or self-imposed 
exile abroad, although four detainees were released on December 31. 
 
General Abacha's Government relied regularly on arbitrary detention and 
mass arrest to silence its many critics.  The winner of the annulled 
June 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood K. O. Abiola, remained in 
detention on charges of treason.  Security forces used excessive force 
to combat a growing wave of violent crime, killing and wounding a number 
of persons, including innocent civilians.  Police tortured and beat 
detainees, and prison conditions remained life threatening; many 
prisoners died in custody.  Citizens do not have the right to change 
their government.  To continue its hold on power, the regime enacted or 
extended a series of harsh decrees restricting press freedom and civil 
liberties which, like other military decrees, contained clauses 
prohibiting judicial review of any government action.  Prominent writer, 
environmentalist, and minority rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight 
others were executed November 10, following a trial by special tribunal 
completely lacking in respect for due process for the murder of four 
Ogoni politicians in May 1994.  Former Head of State Olusegun Obasanjo, 
his erstwhile deputy and outspoken National Constitutional Conference 
delegate, Shehu Musa Yar'Adua, and more than 20 others were charged, 
convicted, and sentenced by a secret military tribunal for their roles 
in alleged March coup plot.  Abacha announced in October that the PRC 
had confirmed the Tribunal's verdicts, he also announced that the 
Government had commuted many of the death sentences.  Obassanjo was 
sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment instead of life, and Yar'Adua's 
death sentence was commuted to 25 years' imprisonment.  Four military 
officers were given life sentences. 
 
Security services continued routine harassment of human rights and 
prodemocracy groups, including labor leaders, journalists, and student 
activists.  Other human rights problems included violence and 
discrimination against women; infringements of freedom of speech, press, 
assembly, association, travel, and political and labor affiliation. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1   Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
As in previous years, police and security services commonly engaged in 
extrajudicial killings and excessive use of force to quell antimilitary 
and prodemocracy protests.  Credible, although unconfirmed, reports by 
Nigerian human rights groups indicate numerous deaths of suspects in 
police custody.  These reports are generally accepted by the public and 
are consistent with other credible reports of police abuse, including 
the use of torture to extract criminal confessions.  The Government 
seldom holds police and security services accountable for their use of 
excessive, deadly force or the death of individuals in custody.  The 
Government's actions have fostered a climate of impunity in which these 
abuses flourish. 
 
Minority rights and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight 
others were executed on November 10 after their conviction by a tribunal 
which, although legally constituted, did not conform to the 
internationally accepted norms for a fair trial (see Section 1.e.). 
 
In January 52-year-old Uwanogho Obire died while in detention at Oghara 
Police Station (Ethiope West), Delta state.  Witnesses testified before 
a judicial panel of inquiry that police interrogators tied Obire to a 
bar suspended between two wooden frames and whipped him with an electric 
cable and iron rods.  In February the Government dismissed two Ondo 
state policemen for flogging to death two robbery suspects during 
interrogations at the Ondo town police station.  The Movement for the 
Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) publicized the case of Clement Tusiima, 
an Ogoni who died while in government custody in August.  In May 1994, 
the Rivers state internal security task force had arrested Tusiima, a 
skilled automobile technician, in Port Harcourt in connection with the 
killings of four prominent Ogoni politicians.  Reportedly tortured by 
soldiers for several months at Bori military camp, Tusiima was 
transferred to the State Intelligence and Investigation Bureau and 
subsequently to Port Harcourt prison.  MOSOP alleged that Tusiima was 
denied urgently needed medical treatment following his ordeal and died 
of brain damage. 
 
Extrajudicial killings remained common.  Increasing and widespread 
violent crime prompted police to employ roadblocks and checkpoints, 
where extortion, violence, and lethal force is reportedly common.  On 
January 25, Ikeja (Lagos) police shot and killed two university 
students, Bola Afilaka and Ayodele Adejuyibe, after Afilaka refused to 
stop his car at a checkpoint.  Following a pursuit, police reportedly 
apprehended the pair, shot them, then detained both at Adeniji Adele 
police station.  Nineteen-year-old Afilaka was found dead in the cell 
the next morning.  On February 1, 14-year-old roadside merchant Mabel 
Ugwumanu was killed by stray bullets fired by police attempting to stop 
a motorist at a checkpoint in Ihiala. 
 
Mobile anticrime police patrols routinely shot people suspected of armed 
robbery.  According to the Human Rights Monitor (HRM) organization, in 
May a police patrol in Kaduna state shot and killed three suspected 
armed robbers.  The police maintained that they shot the three suspects 
to halt their escape while conveying them to Kano.  HRM noted that the 
police shot all three men in the chest, not in the back as would be 
expected of people fleeing.  In June Zaria police shot and killed 11 
robbery suspects in two separate encounters.  Police killed eight 
suspects during a highway shootout and three others while attempting to 
apprehend them at a Zaria hotel.  Police maintain that all were trying 
to escape.  In August Lagos state police commissioner James Danbaba 
claimed that police killed 30 suspected armed robbers during a series of 
late July raids on their hideouts scattered throughout the state. 
 
There were credible reports that "Lagos State Environmental Task Force" 
(see Section 1.c.) members killed several citizens who refused to stop 
at checkpoints or failed to comply with task force orders.  In January 
task force members pursued and shot two men who refused to stop at a 
checkpoint.  On April 12, task force members shot and killed a minibus 
driver after he refused the use of his vehicle to pursue another 
vehicle.  On May 9 members shot and killed a 17-year-old boy after he 
allegedly tried to flee from the premises of the Lagos state Transport 
Corporation office in Oshodi.  On March 16 three officials of the Akure 
(Ondo state) Local Government Environmental and Sanitation Revenue Task 
Force killed merchant Esther Akinbayajo in Akure during a minor argument 
in which officials reportedly used excessive force. 
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.  However, 
government detention practices have the effect of causing many detainees 
to be "missing" for extended periods (see Section 1.d.). 
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
The 1979 constitution (suspended) and the 1989 constitution (never 
implemented) prohibit torture and mistreatment of prisoners and provide 
criminal sanctions for such excesses.  The Evidence Act of 1960 
prohibits the introduction of evidence obtained through torture.  
Nevertheless, detainees frequently die while in custody (see Section 
1.a.), and there were credible reports that police seeking to extract 
confessions regularly tortured and beat suspects.  There were widespread 
and credible reports that military interrogators beat and nearly 
tortured to death detained coup plot suspects, including colonels Lawan 
Gwadabe and R.S. Bello-Fadile.  In February Defense Intelligence Service 
agents reportedly tortured an Air Force sergeant whom they accused of 
spying.  Detainees are regularly kept incommunicado for long periods of 
time (see Section 1.d.). 
 
In its early months in power, the Abacha regime formed the Lagos State 
Environmental Task Force, as part of its "war on indiscipline and 
corruption."  Under the direct supervision of the Lagos State 
Administrator, Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the task force used brutal 
force on individuals in its attempts to rid Lagos of illegal street 
traders and copious accumulated garbage.  Task force soldiers routinely 
beat and arrested anyone they perceived as "undisciplined," usually 
unarmed market women and traders, but also including jaywalkers, errant 
drivers, children, and young street hawkers.  Task force soldiers at a 
Lagos bus stop routinely arrested and punished people who failed to use 
a nearby pedestrian bridge.  Those arrested were fined, public 
humiliated for several hours, and subsequently released.  On February 25 
soldiers brandishing automatic weapons, whips, and billy clubs destroyed 
"illegal markets" on Ikoyi and Victoria islands, confiscated goods, and 
extorted money from petty traders. 
 
In March Oyo state military administrator Colonel Chinyere Ike Nwosu 
ordered motorists and taxi passengers from their vehicles at the Egebda 
taxi and lorry motor park in Ibadan for allegedly violating Oyo 
"Sanitation Day" exercise.  Nwosu's mobile court fined scores of 
motorists and forced them to kneel down in the hot sun.  On April 25, 
Nwosu's military aides attacked and beat a bank manager in Ibadan after 
the banker's car narrowly avoided colliding with Nwosu's convoy of 
vehicles.  According to press reports, armed soldiers battered the man 
with rifle butts, rendering him unconscious.  The Government neither 
acknowledges nor denies that these practices occur, and their 
perpetrators go unpunished. 
 
Prison conditions remain life threatening.  Lack of potable water, 
inadequate sewage facilities, and shortage of medical supplies result in 
deplorable sanitary conditions.  Disease runs rampant in the cramped, 
poorly ventilated facilities.  Prison inmates are seldom allowed outside 
their cells for recreation, and many inmates must provide their own 
food.  In those cases, only those with money or whose relatives bring 
food regularly have something to eat.  Poor inmates rely on handouts 
from others to survive.  There are credible reports that prison 
officials and police deny inmates food and medical treatment as a form 
of punishment or to extort money from them.  In October the convicted 
coup plotters were dispersed to various prisons around the country, 
inhibiting access to their families and food.  The prisoners reportedly 
also are denied adequate medication and medical care.  Severe 
overcrowding worsens the problem.  For example, Ikoyi prison in Lagos, 
built to house about 800 inmates, holds over 2,000. 
 
The Government derives considerable savings from the practice of leaving 
many children born in prison with their jailed mothers rather than 
placing them in foster homes. 
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, and Exile 
 
The regime repeatedly engaged in arbitrary arrest and detention.  Police 
are empowered to make arrests without warrants if they believe there is 
reasonable suspicion of an offense; they often abuse this power.  The 
law requires that the arresting officer inform the accused of charges at 
the time of arrest and take that person to a station for processing 
within a reasonable time.  By law, police must provide suspects with the 
opportunity to engage counsel and to post bail.  However, police 
generally do not adhere to these safeguards.  They often hold suspects 
incommunicado under harsh conditions for extended periods without 
charge; arbitrary detention occurs frequently.  Police also commonly 
place relatives and friends of wanted suspects in detention without 
criminal charge in an effort to induce suspects to surrender to arrest. 
 
The State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree of 1984 (Decree Two) 
provides that the Government may detain without charge persons suspected 
of acts prejudicial to state security or harmful to the economic well-
being of the country.  When invoked by the Vice President, the decree 
suspends the detainee's civil liberties and precludes judicial review.  
Many citizens consider Decree Two the main threat to their basic 
freedoms because the judicial ouster clause encourages arbitrary 
detention and fails to define what constitutes acts prejudicial to state 
security or national economic well-being.  Decree 11 of 1994 authorizes 
the PRC vice chairman or the Commissioner of Police to detain persons 
for up to 3 months.  Decree 14 of 1994 forbids courts to order the 
Government to produce prisoners in court, effectively suspending the 
right of habeas corpus. 
 
Throughout the year, especially following an abortive March  
1 coup plot, the PRC relied heavily on arbitrary arrest and detention.  
Government security forces arrested and detained hundreds of military 
personnel and scores of civilians.  On March 13, security forces 
arrested and detained former head of state Olusegun Obassanjo without 
charge in Lagos for 10 days, before security agents returned him to his 
Ota (Ogun state) farm, where they placed him under house arrest.  Police 
also arrested Obassanjo's erstwhile deputy and National Constitutional 
Conference delegate, Shehu Musa Yar'adua March 9, and detained him in 
Abuja before transferring him to Lagos' Kiri Kiri maximum security 
prison.  On June 5, the Government convened a secret special military 
tribunal, chaired by Brigadier General Patrick Aziza, and formally 
charged 16 soldiers and 7 civilians with treason and conspiracy (see 
Section 1.e.).  On July 14, the Government announced that the tribunal 
had investigated 51 suspects, of which it had convicted and sentenced 
40, including Obassanjo's and Yar'adua, for treason, conspiracy, and 
concealment of treason.  Three persons were declared "wanted" for their 
alleged roles in the coup plot; seven were released; and one was cleared 
of some charges, but was kept in detention for unspecified further 
investigations (see Section 1.e.). 
 
The Government also arrested and detained without charge several 
prominent journalists, prodemocracy activists, and human rights 
campaigners for their alleged roles in the coup plot.  On March 15, 
security agents arrested the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Sunday 
Magazine, Chris Anyanwu, in response to her magazine's feature article 
entitled "Coup Update:  Blood Bath Soon."  In May the Government 
arrested Tell magazine assistant editor George Mbah, The News magazine 
editor Kunle Ajibade, and Weekend Classique editor Ben Charles Obi.  It 
detained them at Directorate of Military Intelligence headquarters in 
Lagos.  On July 26 state security service agents arrested Olatunji 
Abayomi, one of Obassanjo's attorneys and Human Rights Africa president; 
Tell Magazine correspondent Wole Adeyemu; and British Broadcasting 
Corporation assistant correspondent, Femi Shibewa.  Adeyemu and Shibewa 
were detained and interrogated overnight and released.  On July 27, the 
Government arrested Beko Ransome-Kuti, chairman of the Campaign for 
Democracy (CD), after he criticized Abayomi's arrest and questioned the 
veracity of the alleged coup plot.  The Aziza Tribunal charged, 
convicted, and sentenced Anyanwu, Mbah, Ajibade, Obi, and Ransome-Kuti 
for treason, conspiracy, concealment of treason, and other alleged 
"anti-regime" activities.  Ransome-Kuti was sentenced to life 
imprisonment, which Abacha reduced to 15 years in October (see Section 
1.e.). 
 
In addition to arrests related to the alleged coup plot, the Government 
routinely arrested and detained without charge leading human rights and 
prodemocracy activists.  In January security agents arrested and 
detained for 10 days Ransome-Kuti and Femi Falana.  Falana is chairman 
of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers.  On January 17, the 
Government arrested Sylvester Odion-Akhaine, secretary general of the 
CD, and Shehu Sani, CD's Northern Nigeria organizer.  It detained both 
without charge and repeatedly ignored court orders to produce and 
justify their continued detention.  On April 20, security agents in 
Abuja arrested and detained without charge Dr. Ore Falomo, the personal 
physician of chief Moshood K.O. Abiola.  Falomo was detained in Kaduna 
prison until his release on April 23.  No official reason was given for 
his arrest and detention. 
 
In May and June, the Government expanded its crackdown, arresting scores 
of prodemocracy activists in a series of preemptive strikes prior to the 
second anniversary of the annulled 1993 presidential election.  In mid-
May security agents arrested Olawale Oshun, acting general secretary of 
the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Josephine Okei, NADECO 
assistant secretary, and Femi Falana after NADECO announced plans to 
convene a commemorative convention in Lagos in early June.  On June 1, 
government security forces arrested and detained Ransome-Kuti, Kwara 
state NADECO chairman Wole Oke, former Social Democratic Party 
presidential aspirant and NADECO activist Olu Falae, and former Kwara 
state governor and NADECO national publicity director Cornelius Adebayo.  
In addition, Ondo state security forces arrested and detained the 
octogenarian NADECO leader, Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, and 39 
members of his Yoruba political and cultural association known as 
Afenifere and charged them with holding an unauthorized political 
meeting at Ajasin's house.  On June 7, the Government arrested, 
interrogated, and released Olisa Agbakoba, president of the Civil 
Liberties Organisation (CLO), and two CLO employees, Steve Aluko and 
Tunde Akannu.  Agbakoba was rearrested on June 9 and detained for 2 
weeks.  No official reasons were given for their arrests and detention. 
 
On July 3, security agents arrested Gani Fawehinmi, National Conscience 
Party (NCP) president, and detained him without charge for 2 weeks.  
Although no official reason was given for Fawehinmi's arrest, it 
followed his July 2 press conference during which he had boldly 
criticized the Abacha regime and denounced the Government's provisional 
lifting of the ban on political activity (see Section 2.b.).  Also in 
July, the Government arrested Chima Ubani, the secretary general of the 
Democratic Alternative (DA), Osagie Obayuwana, the Deputy National 
President of CD, and CLO executive director Abdul Oroh.  No official 
reasons were given for their arrests and the Government ignored a Lagos 
federal high court order to produce and justify Oroh's detention.  In 
late July, federal Ministry of Justice attorneys told the Lagos federal 
high court that Abayomi and Ubani were being held under provisions of 
the State Security (Detention of Persons) Decree of 1984.  In September 
police again arrested Gani Fawehinmi along with five fellow NCP 
activists as Fawehinmi was about to address a party rally in Lagos.  All 
six were arraigned and released on their personal recognizance 3 days 
after their arrest.  Misdemeanor charges against Fawehinmi included 
unlawful assembly and conduct liable to breach the public peace.  Trial 
on the misdemeanors was set for January 1996. 
 
Throughout the year, government forces harassed and detained members of 
MOSOP, including Ken Saro-Wiwa's brother and sister-in-law Owns and 
Kiana Wiwa.  Saro-Wiwa, Ledum Mitee, Barionem Kiobel, and 11 others also 
remained in detention in Port Harcourt's Bori Military Camp, with 
limited access to their lawyers, families or doctors until the end of 
the proceedings.  A court convicted Saro-Wiwa and eight others, who 
received sentences of death by hanging.  The other five defendants were 
released.  The "Ogoni Nine" were executed November 10 (see Section 
1.a.).  In August the Rivers state internal security task force arrested 
four MOSOP activists including Lekue Lah-Loolo, Baton Mitee, Professor 
Meshack Karanwi, and a cameraman who filmed several videos subsequently 
incorporated into British television documentaries critical of the 
Government and multinational oil companies.  Following the Ogoni 
executions, several clergymen and others were arrested and detained 
briefly to preclude any organized mourning or possible demonstrations. 
 
Several leading labor and prodemocracy activists, who were arrested in 
1993, remained in detention at year's end, including:  M.K.O. Abiola; 
Fred Eno, personal aide to Abiola; Olu Akerele, Corporate Affairs 
Manager of the Abiola-owned Concord Press; Frank Kokori, General 
Secretary of the National Union of Petroleum, Energy, and Gas Workers 
(NUPENG); Wariebi Kojo Agamene, President of NUPENG; R. Addo, first 
president of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association 
(PENGASSAN); and P. Aidelomon, a PENGASSAN branch chairman. 
 
The above cases were not isolated.  The Government routinely detained 
human rights monitors, journalists, and political opponents throughout 
the year for making or publishing critical statements.  Government 
security forces frequently harassed, arrested, and detained journalists 
for a variety of reasons, including the alleged spreading of false 
information and stories that exposed the actions of government officials 
(see Section 2.a.). 
 
Most often the authorities did not charge detainees with a crime, held 
them for only brief periods, and questioned them about their activities 
and statements.  Nigeria's total prison population is estimated at 
65,000.  A precise figure for the number of persons detained without 
charge is unavailable.  However, CLO estimates that 50,000 prisoners, 
nearly 77 percent of the total prison population, are still awaiting 
trial. 
 
There are no reliable estimates of the number of political detainees.  
At year's end, annulled 1993 presidential election victor M.K.O. Abiola 
remained detained in prison, despite a November 1994 ruling by the 
Kaduna Federal High Court of Appeals granting him bail on the condition 
that he "not disturb the peace."  In December 1994 the same court 
overruled its earlier decision, and Abiola's attorneys appealed to the 
Supreme Court.  In May eight Supreme Court justices, including Chief 
Justice Mohammed Bello, withdrew from hearing the case because of a 
libel suit they had pending against Abiola's Concord Press, effectively 
suspending hearings of Abiola's appeal until new justices are named to 
the court.  Abiola's trial on treason charges remained suspended 
indefinitely on orders from the regime.  Other long-term political 
detainees, such as Olatunji Abayomi, Frank Kokori, and Abdul Oroh, 
continued to be held without trial. 
 
There were no known instances of forced exile as a means of political 
control, although several NADECO members, including former Third 
Republic Senator Bola Tinabu, retired Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, and 
Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka were in self-imposed exile. 
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
To suppress opposition to its rule, the regime first bypassed the 
regular courts in favor of "tribunals" and then declared itself above 
the law by prohibiting court review of any government action.  Sentences 
are generally severe.  The Government's reliance on tribunals, which 
operate outside the constitutional court system, seriously undermines 
the judiciary's independence and often results in legal proceedings that 
deny defendants due process. 
 
The regular court system is composed of both federal and state trial 
courts, state appeals courts, the federal Court of Appeal, and the 
federal Supreme Court.  Under the 1979 constitution, courts of the first 
instance include magistrate or district courts, customary or area 
courts, Shari'a (Islamic) Courts, and for some specified cases, the 
state high courts.  The nature of the case usually determines which 
court has jurisdiction.  In principle, customary and Shari'a courts have 
jurisdiction only if both plaintiff and defendant agree to accept it.  
In practice, fear of legal costs, delay, and distance to alternative 
courts encourage many litigants to choose these courts. 
 
Decree One of 1984, the basic Constitution (modification and suspension) 
decree, the first decree promulgated by the military officers who 
overthrew the civilian regime of President Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari in 
1983, left the institutional framework of the judiciary relatively 
intact.  However, it established a parallel system of military tribunals 
with sole jurisdiction over certain offenses, such as coup plotting, 
corruption, armed robbery, and illegal sale of petroleum.  A 1991 decree 
amended Decree One by providing that only sitting or retired civilian 
judges may preside over tribunals hearing nonmilitary cases. 
 
The PRC retained the tribunal framework.  In most cases before the 
tribunals, the accused have the right to legal counsel, bail, and 
appeal, although some tribunals substitute a presumption of guilt for 
the presumption of innocence, and conviction rates in the tribunals 
reportedly exceed conviction rates in the regular courts.  In practice 
tribunal proceedings often deny defendants due process. 
 
For example, in late 1994 the Government set up the Ogoni Civil 
Disturbances Special Tribunal to try Ken Saro-Wiwa and others for their 
alleged roles in the killings of four prominent Ogoni politicians in May 
1994 (see Sections 1.d. and 5).  On February 6, Saro-Wiwa and four 
others pleaded not guilty to charges that they procured and counseled 
others to murder the politicians.  On March 28, the tribunal charged 10 
additional suspects and merged the cases with the ongoing case against 
Saro-Wiwa.  In June the 18-member defense team led by Gani Fawehinmi 
withdrew in protest after the Government refused to comply with a 
tribunal order to produce a videotape recorded May 22, 1994 at Port 
Harcourt's Government House in which State Administrator Lt. Colonel 
Dauda Komo proclaimed that Saro-Wiwa was "guilty of murder." 
 
In July Saro-Wiwa's tribunal-appointed legal aid counsel attorney 
resigned from the case, saying that his client refused to cooperate.  In 
August the tribunal's chairman, Justice Ibrahim Auta, advised Saro-Wiwa 
and the others to cooperate with their newly appointed lawyers and 
suggested that failure to do so was not in their "best interest" because 
it would not stop tribunal proceedings.  On October 31, the tribunal 
announced guilty verdicts and death sentences for Saro-Wiwa and eight 
other Ogoni activists.  The PRC "confirmed" this decision November 8 and 
executed all nine November 10 (see Section 1.a.). 
 
On June 5, the Government convened a secret special military tribunal, 
chaired by Brigadier General Patrick Aziza, and charged 16 soldiers 
including 4 colonels (Lawan Gwadabe, R.S. Bello-Fadile, R.A. Emokpae, O. 
Oloruntoba), 7 Lt. Colonels (S.E. Oyewole, K. Happy Bulus, M.A. Igwe, 
R.D. Obiki, V.O. Bamgbose, O.E. Nyong, C.P. Izuorgu), 3 Captains (M.A. 
Ibrahim, A.A. Ogunsuyi, U.S.A. Suleiman), Second Lieutenant Richard 
Emonvhe, Staff Sergeant Patrick Usikpeko, and 7 civilians (Ret. Lt. 
Colonel M.A. Ajayi, Ret. Major Akinloye Akinyemi, Felix Ndmaigida, Peter 
Ijaola, Julius Badejo, Matthew Popoola, Sanusi Mato) with treason, 
concealment of treason, and conspiracy.  The Government claims the 
defendants were tried in accordance with military law and had appointed 
military lawyers.  There were credible reports that most military 
lawyers refused to represent the alleged coup plotters because they saw 
it as a "losing proposition."  On June 30, the Lagos federal h1gh court 
dismissed Akinloye Akinyemi's suit challenging the constitutionality of 
the tribunal.  Judge Vincent Eigbedion termed Akinyemi's lawsuit 
"foolhardy and incomprehensible" and based the court's decision on the 
"ouster" clauses contained in the 1990 Special Military Tribunal Act 
which prevent the judiciary from interfering with tribunal matters.  The 
tribunal charged, convicted, and sentenced prominent human rights 
activists, journalists, and others, including relatives of the coup 
suspects, for their alleged "antiregime" activities throughout July and 
August. 
 
In October the Government announced that the PRC and Abacha had approved 
final sentences for those convicted of participation in the coup plot.  
However, Abacha reduced the original sentences passed by the tribunal 
due to the international campaign for clemency for the coup plotters.  
The death sentences of Akinyemi, Gwadabe, Oloruntoba and Bello-Fadile 
were commuted to life imprisonment.  The death sentences for conviction 
of conspiracy to commit treason of Yar'adua, Bulus, Oyewole, Emokpae, 
Igwe, Lt. Col. Ajayi, and four others were commuted to 25 years.  The 
life sentences for convictions of concealment of Obaangjo, Ibrahim, 
Usikepo, Mato, Ndmaigida, Badejo, Popoola, Obiki and eight others were 
reduced to 15 years.  Long-term political detainee George Mbah was 
convicted along with the coup plotters.  Mbah's conviction was reduced 
from life imprisonment to 15 years.  Prison terms for a variety of other 
offenses were similarly reduced.  Military personnel who had been 
discharged but not tried were to be released and discharged from 
service. 
 
The Government's frequent refusal to respect court rulings also 
undercuts the independence and integrity of the judiciary.  In April and 
May, government security agents at Murtala Muhammed International 
Airport (MMIA) twice ignored court orders termitting Gani Fawehinmi to 
travel abroad (see Section 2.d.).  On April 10, security agents told 
Fawehinmi that they had been instructed to ignore an April 6 Lagos 
federal high court order and to prevent Fawehinmi from boarding a 
British Airways flight to London.  Fawehinmi alleged that the head of 
state personally ordered that he not be allowed to travel abroad for 
urgently needed medical treatment because he was seen as a threat to the 
Government.  In August the Government ignored Lagos federal high court 
orders to produce and justify the continued detention of CLO executive 
director, Abdul Oroh, and CD Chairman Beko Ransome-Kuti.  The state 
security service initially ignored court orders to produce and justify 
the detention of Olatunji Abayomi and Chima Ubani, then declared that it 
held them under Decree Two provisions. 
 
Seriously damaging the shred of credibility the judiciary retained, the 
regime in August 1994 declared itself above the law.  Decree 12 of 1994 
states that "no act of the federal military government may be questioned 
henceforth in a court of law," and "divests all courts of jurisdiction 
in all matters concerning the authority of the federal Government." 
 
Criminal justice procedures call for trial within 3 months of 
arraignment for most categories of crimes.  Inefficient administrative 
procedures, petty extortion, bureaucratic inertia, poor communication 
between police and prison officials, and inadequate transportation 
continue to result in considerable delays, often stretching to several 
years in bringing suspects to trial. 
 
Trials in the regular court system are public and generally respect 
constitutionally protected individual rights, including a presumption of 
innocence, the right to be present, to confront witnesses, to present 
evidence, and to be represented by legal counsel. 
 
There are no legal provisions barring women or other groups from 
testifying in civil court or for giving their testimony less weight.  
The testimony of women is, however, accorded less weight in Shari'a 
courts.  There is a widespread perception that judges are easily bribed, 
or "settled," and that the litigants cannot rely on the courts to render 
impartial judgment. 
 
The number of political prisoners (as distinct from political detainees) 
held by the Government was also unknown. 
 
   f.   Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
Provisions of the 1979 and 1989 constitutions provide for the rights to 
privacy in the home, in correspondence, and in oral electronic 
communications.  However, the military government regularly interfered 
in the lives of its citizens, and if the authorities desired to use a 
warrant in a particular search case, they often secured it from a 
military tribunal rather than a regular court.  Human rights and 
prodemocracy leaders, including Gani Fawehinmi, Glory Kilanko, and Olisa 
Agbakoba, reported that security agents regularly followed them and cut 
off or monitored their organizations' telephones.  Credible sources 
report an increase in harassment and intimidation by police and military 
units in Ogoniland following the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the 
eight other Ogoni activists.  Abuses perpetrated in Ogoniland included 
random search of houses and cars without warrants or probable cause and 
prevention of any public display of mourning for the Ogoni Nine. 
 
A 1995 money laundering decree allows the National Drug Law Enforcement 
Agency to monitor telephone communications, access computer systems, and 
obtain bank and financial records of individual and corporate customers. 
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
The Abacha regime often publicly declared its support for these 
freedoms, but it nevertheless sought to confine public political 
dialogue to the constitutional conference.  The regime also increased 
its systematic intimidation of the press through legal and extralegal 
means throughout the year.  Constitutional provisions providing for 
freedom of speech and the press are not enforceable because of continued 
suspension of constitutional rights. 
 
There is a large and vibrant press, which is frequently critical of the 
Government.  Nonetheless, the Government directly owns or controls many 
newspapers and has shut down several others.  The Government granted 
broadcasting rights to private radio stations for the first time in 
1994. 
 
The Government used a variety of methods to repress its many critics.  
In January and February it extended its August 1994 decrees proscribing 
for 6 months three newspaper publishing houses:  the Concord Group; the 
Punch Group; and the Guardian Group.  These new decrees granted the 
Abacha regime and its agents legal immunity from challenges to actions 
it took to implement the decrees, even when the action predated the 
decree.  In July it rescinded the Guardian proscription order reportedly 
after that publishing group's owner and former Interior Minister, Alex 
Ibru, personally apologized for having offended the Head of State.  In 
October Abacha announced the removal of the earlier bans on Punch and 
the National Concord, expressing the "hope that these media houses will 
now operate responsibly within the law and in the national interest." 
 
Throughout the year, government security agents frequently harassed, 
arrested, and detained journalists.  In January security agents arrested 
Sani Abdullahi and Yusuf Dingyadi, Hausa Service reporters for the Voice 
of America (VOA) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 
respectively, and detained them without charge.  The Government accused 
the pair of spreading false information, inciting religious hatred, and 
broadcasting inaccurate reports about religious clashes in Sokoto (see 
Section 5).  In March security agents arrested Bayo Onanuga, editor-in-
chief of The News, Tempo, and P.M. News, after The News reported on 
meningitis and cholera epidemics in Enugu, Ibadan, and Kaduna, three of 
four proposed host cities for the 1995 Junior Soccer World Cup.  In May 
the Government arrested and detained an A.M. News reporter after he 
published a story alleging that the chief of general staff, General 
Oladipo Diya, had been a victim of advance fee fraud, commonly known as 
"419."  In July security operatives arrested Babafemi Ojudu, A.M. News 
Editor, and Olusesan Ekinsola, the general manager of Ray Power 100.5, 
the only private radio station in Nigeria.  Although no official reasons 
were given for their arrests, it was widely believed to be in response 
to a broadcast that soldiers had laid siege to an Ikeja police station.  
In August Enugu state police arrested and detained Louis Onyia, 
correspondent for The Week magazine, who refused to disclose his source 
of information regarding an article that the state police commissioner 
had consulted "oracles" to assist police investigations. 
 
Government repression of journalists continued through the summer with 
the August 7 arrest of Fred Ohwahwa, Third Eye on Sunday editor, and the 
August 31 arrest of Osa Director, Tell Magazine's Kano bureau chief.  No 
official reasons were given for their arrest and detention.  In 
September security agents arrested the managing director of Sub-Saharan 
Press Limited (publishers of The Week magazine), Chris Mamah, and The 
Week editor, Godwin Agbroko.  No reasons were given for their arrest; 
however, it was most likely in response to the magazine's September 11 
feature entitled "Abacha's Illness:  Top Aides Struggle to Take Over." 
 
The Government increased harassment of the independent press in 
December.  Information Minister Walter Ofonagoro led a high profile 
campaign warning journalists not to publish articles against the 
interests of the Government.  Security agents increased their overall 
efforts to intimidate, harass, and arrest prodemocracy journalists. 
 
On December 16, the headquarters of The Guardian was set on fire.  Press 
accounts said that the fire "was set by men reportedly dressed in 
military uniform."  On December 17, the Government detained staff of 
Tell Magazine, then seized that publication's entire print run, which 
featured a headline article, "Abiola Freedom."  On December 23, the 
State Security Service (SSS) confiscated approximately 32,000 copies of 
the January 1 edition of Tell Magazine at the Academy Printing Press in 
Ilupeju and ransacked Tell offices in Ikeja.  Several hours later, the 
SSS arrested Nosa Igiebor, editor-in-chief of Tell.  On December 31, 
arsonists set fire to the offices of the Independent Communcations 
Network Limited, publishers of The News and Tempo.  There were credible 
reports that the fire was set by the SSS. 
 
The Government also denied entry to and deported foreign journalists, 
including two South Africa-based journalists, Henrick Thomsen and Ric 
Miller, of a leading Danish daily newspaper.  In May it seized thousands 
of copies of the May 22 international edition of Newsweek magazine which 
contained an article critical of the Head of State. 
 
The military government used a number of other means to intimidate the 
press.  These included a decree banning government offices from 
advertising in nongovernment media, periodic directives to government 
offices forbidding the purchase of certain publications, personal 
attacks in government-controlled media against journalists and others 
who challenged government policies, and threats of harassment of 
potential advertisers and investors in antigovernment publications.  In 
August the regime dismissed both Tunji Oseni, chief executive of the 
government-controlled Daily Times newspaper, and its board of directors.  
It appointed a sole administrator, Innocent Oparadike, in their place. 
 
Television, both Nigerian and foreign, is widely available.  Access is 
limited more by substandard cable installation, electrical power surges 
and outages, and technical broadcasting difficulties than by government 
intervention. 
 
Academic freedom is generally respected, although the head of Ahmadu 
Bello University's Political Science Department claimed that faculty 
cannot in fact conduct research.  There were credible reports that the 
Government secretly tape recorded conversations among faculty at the 
University of Ibadan and the University of Lagos.  Security agents 
subsequently confronted faculty members with the recordings and 
interrogated them concerning their alleged political activities.  Some 
student groups believe university authorities follow government 
directives to suspend or expel activist students. 
 
   b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
The two constitutions provide citizens with the right to assemble freely 
and associate with other persons in political parties, trade unions, or 
other special interest associations.  However, the Government proscribed 
all political activity 1 day after coming into power in 1993.  In August 
1994, General Abacha announced that "individuals or groups may 
henceforth canvass political ideas, but they cannot form political 
parties for now."  On March 3, Ibadan police stopped a rally marking the 
end of Ramadan at Oke Ado market after an announcement that prominent 
Ibadan politician Lamidi Adedibu was scheduled to speak.  In May the Edo 
and Oyo state military administrators issued orders indefinitely banning 
all political and tribal meetings.  In June the Government arrested 39 
supporters of Afenifere, and charged them with holding an unauthorized 
political meeting (see Section 1.d.). 
 
On June 27, Abacha announced a partial lifting of the month-old ban on 
political activity.  Enthusiasm over the lifting of the ban was muted, 
however, by Abacha's announcement that no political activities would be 
allowed until the moribund National Electoral Commission (NEC) was 
reconstituted.  The only immediate effect of Abacha's announcement was 
that political and cultural associations, such as Afenifere, NADECO, and 
Gani Fawehinmi's NCP, theoretically could establish themselves as 
political parties.  Only 1 week after Abacha's announcement, Fawehinmi 
was arrested for holding an illegal political rally in Lagos. 
 
Permits are not normally required for public meetings indoors, and 
permit requirements for outdoor public functions are often ignored by 
both Government and those assembling.  However, the Abacha government 
retained the authority of Decree Five of the Babangida government, which 
had banned gatherings whose political, ethnic, or religious content it 
believed might lead to unrest. 
 
Although Abacha announced the lifting of restrictions on political 
activities in his October 1 Independence Day address, he issued no 
enabling decree.  The Lagos police chief refused to grant the NADECO a 
permit for a mid-December rally, disbursing the 10,000 people in 
attendance with clubs and tear gas.  Police also aborted a mid-December 
rally in Abeokuta in support of the release of Abiola, Ransome-Kiti, and 
Obasanjo.  CD Acting Chair Frederick Fasehun and others arrested at the 
stillborn rally have been charged with sedition, disturbance of the 
peace, and unlawful assembly.  On December 27, the Government issued a 
directive that all universities be closed, reportedly to prevent the use 
of students for illegal rallies by prodemocracy groups.  At year's end, 
the Government continued to repress the political activities of 
opposition groups. 
 
Open-air religious services away from places of worship remain 
prohibited in most states due to religious tensions in various parts of 
the country. 
 
Religious, professional, and other organizations need not register with 
the Government and are generally permitted freely to associate with 
other national and foreign bodies.  The PRC retained its ban on several 
political organizations which it contended were founded primarily along 
ethnic, tribal, religious, or other parochial lines for the purpose of 
sponsoring various political candidates. 
 
   c.   Freedom of Religion 
 
The Government generally respects freedom of belief, practice, and 
religious education which had been provided for by the suspended 1979 
and 1989 constitutions.  Decree One (suspending most of the 1979 
constitution) and the stillborn 1989 constitution also prohibited 
federal and state governments from adopting a state religion, and the 
PRC reaffirmed the secular nature of the state in its instructions to 
the constitutional conference.  The Government instituted a ban in 1987 
(which is still in effect) on religious organizations on campuses of 
primary schools, although individual students retain the right to 
practice their religion in recognized places of worship. 
 
Distribution of religious publications is generally unrestricted.  There 
is a lightly enforced ban on published religious advertisements, and 
religious programming on television and radio remains closely controlled 
by the Government.  Both Christian and Muslim organizations allege that 
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Immigration Department continue 
to restrict the entry into the country of certain religious 
practitioners, particularly persons suspected of proselytizing.  While 
it has not outlawed the practice, the Government discourages 
proselytizing in the belief that it stirs up religious tensions, 
particularly in the predominantly Islamic north. 
 
   d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
The two constitutions entitle citizens to move freely throughout the 
country and reside where they wish.  However, increasing violent crime 
in many parts of the country prompted police to set up roadblocks and 
checkpoints, where officials commonly engaged in extortion, violence, 
and excessive use of force. 
 
Those constitutions also prohibited expulsion or the denial of exit or 
entry to any citizen.  In practice, however, women must often obtain 
permission from a male family member before being granted a passport, 
and the Government, like its predecessors, occasionally prevented travel 
for political reasons. 
 
For example, in August the Government prevented Gani Fawehinmi from 
exiting Port Harcourt Airport and "deported" him back to Lagos.  
Government security agents told Fawehinmi that they had "orders from 
above" that he not be allowed to enter Port Harcourt; not to talk to 
anyone or address any gathering; and that he be returned to Lagos 
"immediately."  In April and May, government security agents at MMIA 
twice prevented Fawehinmi from boarding an international flight.  
Fawehinmi subsequently managed to travel abroad, but government security 
agents immediately seized his passport upon his return to Lagos. 
 
Throughout the year the Government routinely seized the passports of its 
critics.  On June 7, government security agents at MMIA seized the 
passport and plane ticket of Abiola's attorney, Godwin Ajayi, prior to 
his planned departure to attend an international Bar Association 
conference.  On June 30, the Government confiscated the passport of 
prominent feminist, Glory Kilanko, who, 1 week before, criticized the 
Government's human rights record at a British Commonwealth NGO forum in 
Wellington, New Zealand.  In August the Government seized the passports 
of Nigerian Bar Association President Priscilla Kuye, Women in Nigeria 
representative Nyoko Toyo, Citizen magazine editor Bilikisu Yusufu, and 
Mero Mandara and prevented them from traveling to the Fourth United 
Nations Conference on Women in Beijing.  In March government security 
agents seized former head of state Olusegun Obasanjo's passport after he 
returned from the United Nations World Summit on Social Development. 
 
Journalists reported harassment at the nation's airports by security 
officials throughout the year, including having to fill out a special 
exit and entry form detailing their movements abroad, reasons for making 
their trip, and friends and associates overseas.  Security officials 
harassed or temporarily confiscated the passports of journalists who 
refused to complete the form.  There were credible reports that the 
Government had assigned military security personnel to MMIA to screen 
departing passengers to apprehend prodemocracy supporters.  Government 
security agents were instructed to question extensively citizens who had 
been issued United States visas.  If the agents were not satisfied with 
the responses, they had orders to seize passports and turn the suspects 
over to military intelligence and state security service personnel for 
additional questioning. 
 
Nigerian law and practice permit temporary refuge and asylum for 
political refugees from other countries.  The Government cooperates with 
the Lagos office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 
dealing with an estimated 4,300  
 
Liberian, 1,400 Chadian, 580 Cameroonian, 140 Ghanaian, and an 
undetermined number of Togolese, Somalian, Sudanese, and Ethiopian 
refugees.  There were no reports that refugees were expelled from 
Nigeria in 1995. 
 
Section 3   Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
Citizens could not exercise this right in 1995 and there was little 
indication that General Abacha's military regime was willing to permit 
them to do so on any basis other than a process tightly controlled by 
the regime.  Throughout the year, the regime committed numerous, 
repeated, and egregious human rights abuses in its effort to prevent 
citizens from opposing it by peaceful political means. 
 
After coming to power, the Provisional Ruling Council headed by General 
Abacha promised a return to civilian, democratic rule but did not 
provide a timetable.  The regime instead convened a constitutional 
conference which prepared a draft constitution, but did not set a 
definitive date for the termination of military rule.  In his October 1 
Independence Day address, Abacha announced a transition timetable 
leading to inauguration of a civilian president on October 1, 1998.  The 
process was to begin with the adoption of a new constitution, lifting of 
all restrictions on political activities, establishment of an electoral 
commission, creation of committees on transition implementation, 
national reconciliation, and federal character, and appointment of a 
panel on creation of new state and local governments, all within the 
final 3 months of 1995.  The transition program further provides for a 
series of local, state and federal elections over a period of 3 years.  
It does not provide for any meaningful civilian participation, other 
than in elections, and Abacha has not indicated any intention to 
relinquish control during the transition process. 
 
So far, Abacha has made no meaningful progress in the 3-year transition 
program.  The new constitution proposed by the National Constitutional 
Conference in June was never adopted.  Only in early December did Abacha 
take the first step when he approved the composition of three of the 
transition committees.  On December 22, Abacha announced the 
establishment of the last three committees.  However, Abacha never 
issued enabling decrees for any of the new bodies, without which they 
are powerless.  By year's end, no positive action in the direction of 
civilian rule had emerged from any of the bodies. 
 
Nigerian politics remains dominated by men.  However, there are no legal 
impediments to political participation or voting by women or members of 
any other minority group.  There are three women in the PRC's Federal 
Executive Council. 
 
Section 4   Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
The Government permitted local human rights groups to operate but often 
interfered with their activities, detaining their members and preventing 
them from criticizing the Government's human rights record (see Sections 
1.d. and 2.a).  High-level government officials regularly denounced the 
activities of Nigeria's human rights community, often accusing its 
members and the independent press of participating in foreign-inspired 
plots to destabilize the country. 
 
Notwithstanding the Government's hostile attitude, national and 
international human rights groups engaged in a vocal and public campaign 
for the promotion of human rights.  Among the most active organizations 
are:  the CLO; the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR); the 
CD; the Constitutional Rights Project (CRP); the National Association of 
Democratic Lawyers; Human Rights Africa (HRA); the HRM; the NCP; the 
Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law; the Legal Research and 
Resource Development Center; the National Association of University 
Women; the International Federation of Women Lawyers; Women in Nigeria; 
and the Human Rights Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association.  A 
number of prominent authors, including Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, 
artists, educators, and jurists, in addition to professional and labor 
organizations, spoke out frequently on human rights issues as well.  
Amnesty International is active in Nigeria, and the International 
Committee of the Red Cross has a regional office based in Lagos. 
 
The Government sometimes prevented foreign human rights monitoring 
groups and individuals from visiting Nigeria.  In August government 
security agents detained and deported two South African-based 
journalists for a Danish newspaper (see Section 2.a.).  The pair had 
planned to meet with leading human rights and prodemocracy activists, as 
well as MOSOP representatives, during their 2-week visit.  In July the 
Government refused the United Nations Human Rights Commission's (UNHRC) 
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention permission to visit, citing the 
UNHRC's failure to respond to a joint CLO, CRP, MOSOP, CD, CDHR, and HRA 
request on July 24 to send a country mission to assess the human rights 
situation.  The Government admitted British Commonwealth Human Rights 
Initiative delegation representatives to the country in July but denied 
them access to detainees. 
 
Section 5   Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, 
Social Status, or Disability 
 
Both the 1979 and 1989 constitutions provide citizens with the right to 
freedom from discrimination based on "community, place of origin, ethnic 
group, sex, religion, or political opinion."  However, customary and 
religious discrimination against women persists, while tension between 
the Government and disaffected minority ethnic groups is on the rise. 
 
   Women 
 
Reports of spousal abuse are common, especially wife-beating in 
polygynous families.  Police do not normally intervene in domestic 
disputes, which are seldom discussed publicly.  In more traditional 
areas, it is questionable whether the courts and police actively 
intervene to protect women who formally accuse their husbands if the 
level of alleged abuse does not exceed customary norms in the area.  
Purdah, the Islamic practice of keeping girls and women in seclusion 
from men outside the family, is prevalent in parts of Nigeria's far 
north.  Women also bear the brunt of attacks for social and religious 
reasons, particularly for "immodest" or "inappropriate" behavior. 
 
Women experience considerable discrimination as well as physical abuse.  
There are no laws barring women from particular fields of employment, 
but women often experience discrimination because the Government 
tolerates customary and religious practices which adversely affect them.  
While the number of women in the formal sector increases every year, 
women do not receive equal pay for equal work and often find it 
extremely difficult to acquire commercial credit or obtain tax 
deductions or rebates as the heads of households. 
 
While some women have made considerable individual progress, both in the 
academic and business world, most are underprivileged.  Though women are 
not legally barred from owning land, under some customary land tenure 
systems only men can own land, and women gain access to land through 
marriage or family.  In addition, many customary practices do not 
recognize a woman's right to inherit her husband's property, and many 
widows are rendered destitute when their in-laws take virtually all of 
the deceased husband's property.  In other areas, a widow herself is 
considered part of the property, and she too may be "inherited" by the 
husband's eldest male relative.  Polygyny is widely practiced among all 
ethnic groups in both Christian and Islamic communities.  Women often 
must provide permission from a male family member to obtain a passport 
(see Section 2.d.). 
 
   Children 
 
The Government only occasionally condemns child abuse and neglect and 
makes little effort to stop customary practices, such as the sale of 
children into marriage.  It remains only sporadically committed to 
children's welfare.  Public schools continue to deteriorate, and limited 
facilities precluded access to education for some children.  While the 
Government increased spending on children's health in recent years, it 
seldom enforced even the inadequate laws designed to protect the rights 
of children.  Although the law stipulates that "no child shall be 
ordered to be imprisoned," juvenile offenders are routinely denied bail 
and incarcerated along with hardened criminals. 
 
There are credible reports that poor families often sell their daughters 
into marriage as a means of supplementing their incomes.  There are also 
reports that many young girls are forced into marriage as soon as they 
reach puberty, regardless of age, to prevent "indecency" associated with 
premarital sex. 
 
The Government publicly opposes female genital mutilation (FGM), which 
is widely condemned by international health experts as damaging to both 
physical and psychological health.  Nigeria cosponsored a resolution at 
the Fourth World Health Assembly calling for the elimination of harmful 
health practices, including FGM.  However, the Government has taken no 
action to abolish the procedure, and nearly all ethnic groups subject 
young females to it.  Nigerian experts estimate that as many as 50 
percent of Nigerian women, primarily in the Christian south but less in 
the Muslim north, may have undergone FGM, which varies from simple 
removal of the clitoral hood or labia minora to excision of the clitoris 
and the most dangerous form, infibulation. 
 
The age at which females are subjected to FGM varies from the first week 
of life to after a woman delivers her first child.  The Ministry of 
Health and NGO's sponsor public awareness and education projects to 
inform communities of the health hazards of FGM.  The press openly 
condemned the practice on a number of occasions. 
 
   People with Disabilities 
 
While the Government called for private businesses to institute policies 
ensuring fair treatment of the 2 percent of the work force that it 
claims is disabled, it has not enacted any laws fostering greater 
accessibility to buildings and public transportation, nor has it 
formulated any policy which specifically ensures the right of the 
disabled to work. 
 
   National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities 
 
The Government has promulgated no official policy concerning 
discrimination against any of Nigeria's 250 ethnic groups, and laws do 
not favor one group over another.  However, Nigeria has a long history 
of tension among its diverse ethnic groups.   
 
Clashes continued between rival ethnic groups in Delta, Rivers, Benue, 
Cross River, Plateau, and Taraba states, often resulting in casualties.  
Tradition continues to impose considerable pressure on individual 
government officials to favor their own ethnic group, and ethnic 
favoritism persists.  The Ogoni, an ethnic group indigenous to Rivers 
state in eastern Nigeria (Nigeria's oil producing region), maintain that 
the Government continues to engage in a systematic campaign to deprive 
them of their land and its wealth. 
 
Members of the Ogoni group claim that the Government seizes Ogoni 
property without fair compensation, ignores the environmental impact of 
oil production on Ogoni land, and fails to provide adequate public 
services, such as water and electricity.  MOSOP, which campaigns for 
greater Ogoni autonomy, often describes government policy towards the 
Ogoni as genocide.  The confrontation between the Government and the 
Ogoni has increasingly turned violent, and Ogoni concerns about 
environmental degradation and the quality of social services in the oil 
producing region have merit.  Despite this, accusations that the 
Government is engaged in a genocidal campaign against the Ogoni are 
unfounded.  Other ethnic minorities, particularly in Delta, Rivers, and 
Akwa Ibom states, have echoed Ogoni claims of environmental degradation 
and government indifference to their development.  Groups such as the 
Ijaw, Itsekiri, and Urhobo have grown increasingly vocal in expressing 
their unhappiness, while the prevalence of ethnic conflict and 
confrontation with government forces increased in these areas. 
 
   Religious Minorities 
 
The law prohibits religious discrimination.  Nonetheless, it is commonly 
reported that government officials often discriminate against persons 
practicing a religion different from their own.  Religious tensions 
often lead to violence, as in January, May, and June when clashes 
between Muslims and Christians in the northern cities of Kano and Sokoto 
resulted in scores of deaths and the partial destruction of each city's 
central market.  In response, the Christian Association of Nigeria 
condemned the killings, and alleged official indifference to the 
incidents.  To date the Government has not prosecuted anyone for the 
killings. 
 
Section 6   Worker Rights 
 
   a. The Right of Association 
 
Although basic labor legislation dating to 1974 remains in place, 
decrees enacted in 1994 that dissolved elected national executive 
councils of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) and two key oil sector 
unions and placed them under the authority of government-appointed sole 
administrators have effectively emasculated the labor movement.  Nigeria 
has signed and ratified the International Labor Organization's (ILO) 
Convention on Freedom of Association, but there are no safeguards 
preventing the Government from interfering in the administration of 
labor unions.  The Government's exercise of absolute power over the 
affairs of the NLC, NUPENG, and (PENGASSAN) fly in the face of 
international obligations and demands by numerous international bodies.  
Although the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), 
the World Confederation of Labor and the Organization of African Trade 
Union Unity (OATUU) filed a complaint with the ILO committee on freedom 
of association following the 1994 dismissal of the three National 
Executive Councils, the Government had not responded positively by 
year's end.  Instead, it kept NUPENG General Secretary Frank Kokori and 
President Waribi Agamene and two officials of PENGASSAN in custody 
without charge since August 1994, and used threats and investigations to 
intimidate union officials and undermine union members' resolve to 
resist government domination. 
 
The Government's promises to allow elections of new executive councils 
in advance of the June ILO conference were never fulfilled, nor was the 
labor movement allowed to choose its own representatives to the ILO.   
Instead, the Government attempted unsuccessfully to seat workers' 
delegates of its choosing.  In the ensuing debate on Nigeria in the 
ILO's committee on the application of conventions and recommendations, 
delegates adopted a "special paragraph" that took the Government to task 
for denying trade unions the right to elect their leaders freely.  The 
1995 action supplemented the 1994 finding of the ILO committee on 
freedom of association that the Government's interference in the 
administration of labor unions and its restriction of workers rights is 
in direct contravention of ratified conventions.  The committee then 
recommended that the Government remove appointed administrators from 
labor bodies, restore suspended union executives and allow them access 
to the premises of union headquarters, and restore dues checkoff.  By 
year's end, none of these demands had been met. 
 
The Government proceeded with plans to impose its own restructuring plan 
on the 41 unions of the NLC and was considering a draft constitution for 
the labor central.  Elections of union executives at local and branch 
levels were occurring, but the Government continued to balk at holding 
elections for national executives, apparently fearing that the election 
would put in office trade unionists who would challenge government 
involvement in union affairs. 
 
At the end of the year, the Government had failed to respond to a 
request by the ILO to send a delegation to Nigeria aimed at securing the 
release of trade unionists and was again cited in a December 1 
resolution of the ICFTU executive board that appealed to all affiliates 
and international trade secretariats to support measures to seek the 
release of the jailed trade unionists and the elimination of government 
interference in trade union affairs. 
 
Workers, except members of the armed forces and employees designated 
essential by the Government, may join trade unions.  Essential employees 
include firefighters, police, employees of the central bank, the 
security printers (printers of currency, passports, and government 
forms), and customs and excise staff.  In May 1993, the Government 
promulgated the Teaching Essential Services Decree, declaring education 
an essential service.  The decree did not, however, proscribe education 
sector unions. 
 
Approximately 70 percent of the work force is employed in agriculture.  
Agricultural workers, except for small numbers in the food processing 
sector, are not unionized.  Most of the informal sector and practically 
all small industries and businesses remain nonunionized.  Approximately 
11.5 percent of the total work force belong to unions. 
 
In contravention of the ILO Convention on Freedom of Association, the 
Government has decreed that the NLC is the single central labor body.  
Although state executive councils of the NLC continue to function, 
government interference makes it difficult for the NLC to represent 
workers effectively.  The NLC has claimed to represent 3 million workers 
of a total work force of 30 million.  This figure is difficult to verify 
and may have dropped in light of a depressed manufacturing sector and 
significant public sector reductions in force.  The Government continued 
to resist attempts by higher graded workers and middle management to 
form and register an independent labor central.  However, the Senior 
Staff Consultative Association of Nigeria continues to serve as an 
unregistered central for the senior staff associations.  Because it is 
unrecognized by the Government, its leaders have also been more 
outspoken on political issues than the NLC. 
 
The right to strike is recognized by law except for those performing 
essential services.  However, workers are required to give 21 days' 
notice prior to commencing a strike.  There are no laws prohibiting 
retribution against strikers and strike leaders, but strikers who feel 
they are facing unfair retribution may submit their cases to the 
industrial arbitration panel whose decisions are binding on all parties. 
 
In April the Government fired 3,000 striking Kwara state civil servants 
who were demanding promised government relief packages, including 100 
percent increases in transportation and housing allowances.  The 
Government subsequently reinstated the workers, except for union 
officials, and dissolved the union.   
 
On May 18 after negotiations broke down, security agents and riot 
police, backed by an armored personnel carrier, broke up a demonstration 
and arrested scores of striking Nigerian Security Minting and Printing 
Company workers who were protesting poor working conditions and the 
Government's failure to implement promised relief packages.  They had 
gathered in front of the Lagos Mint to press their demands.  Citing the 
Essential Services Decree, the Government dismissed 2,500 workers.  Many 
of these workers were subsequently rehired as new employees, thereby 
forfeiting seniority rights and benefits. 
 
In September teachers struck for 2 weeks over demands that included 
payment of allowances and salary arrears that had previously been agreed 
to in negotiations.  They returned to work when the Government paid half 
of the arrears, gave a date certain for payment of the remainder, and 
agreed to continue work on stalled consideration of a new teachers' 
salary schedule and a teachers' registration procedure.  Strikes in the 
public sector occurred in many of the 30 states, typically when 
underfunded state and local governments failed to fulfill previously 
negotiated contract provisions relating to salaries and allowances.  The 
National Association of Resident Doctors struck for a week in November 
on wage-related issues, returning to work when Government conceded two 
demands and promised to study two others.  At Ahmadu Bello University 
Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) in Zaria, the strike by doctors coincided with 
the gruesome murder of the medical director of the hospital by service 
workers who mobbed his office to protest failure of the hospital to pay 
allowances.  The doctors at ABUTH, in addition to wage demands, pressed 
the authorities to find and arrest suspects and to improve hospital 
security. 
 
Nonagricultural enterprises which employ more than 50 employees are 
obliged by law to recognize trade unions and to pay or deduct a dues 
checkoff for employees who are members.  The NLC has complained that 
some employers deliberately organize their industries into multiple 
units employing less than 50 workers to avoid unionization.  The 
Government threatened to withdraw the dues checkoff provision and make 
the payment of union dues completely voluntary if unions pursue strikes.  
This was the case in August 1993 when the NLC called a general strike, 
and in September 1994 at the conclusion of the petroleum strike. 
 
In August 1991, the Government revoked a policy in effect since 1975 
that permitted international labor affiliation only with the OATUU and 
affiliated Pan-African labor federations.  Under Decree 32, affiliation 
with non-African international labor organizations was allowed.  
Negotiations commenced with the ICFTU seeking formal affiliation, but 
the removal of the NLC executive and the protracted political 
confrontation have precluded further progress on these applications.  In 
December the ICFTU adopted a resolution critical of the Government's 
labor policies and actions. 
 
   b.   The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
 
The labor laws provide for both the right to organize and the right to 
bargain collectively between management and trade unions.  Collective 
bargaining is, in fact, common in many sectors of the economy.  Laws 
further protect workers against retaliation by employers for labor 
activity through an independent arm of the judiciary, the Nigerian 
Industrial Court (NIC), which handles complaints of antiunion 
discrimination.  Before cases can be brought to the NIC, parties are 
required to seek mediation and conciliation through the Ministry of 
Labor.  Unresolved disputes can subsequently be taken to the Industrial 
Arbitration Panel and the NIC.  Union officials have, however, 
questioned the independence of the NIC in light of its refusal to 
resolve various disputes stremming from Government's failure to fulfill 
contract provisions for public employees. 
 
There have been no significant reforms in labor practice since January 
1991, when the Government abolished the uniform wage structure for all 
government entities.  This allowed each tier of government--federal, 
state, local, and parastatals--freedom to negotiate its own level of 
wages, benefits, and conditions of employment.  As a result, 
negotiations previously conducted on a nationwide basis under the direct 
supervision of the Labor Ministry are now conducted on a local, often 
plant-wide, basis with less government involvement. 
 
One export processing zone is in development in Calabar, Cross River 
state.  Workers in such zones are subject to same national labor laws. 
 
   c.   Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
 
The 1974 Labor Decree and the 1989 constitution prohibit forced or 
compulsory labor.  However, the ILO noted that with no constitution in 
force, the Government may be unable to enforce the ILO convention 
against forced labor. 
 
   d.   Minimum Age of Employment of Children 
 
The 1974 Labor Decree prohibits employment of children under  
18 years of age in commerce and industry and restricts other child labor 
to home-based agricultural or domestic work.  The law further stipulates 
that children may not be employed in agricultural or domestic work for 
more than 8 hours per day.  The Decree allows the apprenticeship of 
youths aged 13 under specific conditions. 
 
Primary education is compulsory, although this is rarely enforced, and 
recent studies show declining enrollment due mainly to the continuing 
deterioration of public schools.  This lack of sufficient primary school 
infrastructure has ended some families' access to education, forcing 
them to place their children in the labor market.  The ILO and the 
United Nations Children's Fund, in consultation with the NLC, have 
concluded that child labor, while not yet endemic, is increasing and 
could become a serious problem. 
 
   e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
The 1974 Labor Decree sets a minimum wage, which is reviewed on an ad 
hoc basis.  The last review in 1991 was undertaken by a tripartite group 
consisting of representatives of the NLC, the Nigeria Employers' 
Consultative Association, and the Ministry of Labor.  With the 
considerable decline in the naira, the Group raised the minimum wage 
from $2.90 (250 naira) to $5.00 (450 naira) per month, a level which 
does not provide a decent living for a worker and family. 
 
The Labor Decree also established a 40-hour workweek, prescribes 2 to 4 
weeks of annual leave, and stipulated that workers must be paid extra 
for hours worked over the legal limit.  The decree also stated that 
workers who work on Sundays and statutory public holidays must be paid a 
full day's pay in addition to their normal wages.  There is no law 
prohibiting excessive compulsory overtime. 
 
The decree contains general health and safety provisions, some aimed 
specifically at young or female workers.  While it requires that the 
Factory Inspectorate of the Ministry of Labor and Employment inspect 
factories for their compliance with health and safety standards, this 
agency neglects safety oversight of construction sites and other 
nonfactory work.  The decree also requires employers to compensate 
injured workers and dependent survivors of those killed in industrial 
accidents.  The Labor Decree does not provide workers the right to 
excuse themselves from dangerous work situations without loss of 
employment.  The Labor Ministry, which is charged with enforcement of 
these laws, has experienced large staff turnover and has been largely 
ineffective in identifying violations.  The Government has failed to act 
on various ILO recommendations since 1991 to update its moribund 
Inspection and Accident Reporting Program. 
 
(###)

[end of document]

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